KAMPALA – The Medical Concierge Group (TMCG), a digital health enterprise, aiming at improving health service delivery through technology, has rolled out a health chatbot powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Dubbed Mirembe, Luganda for ‘Peace’, the chatbot is the first designed for health in Uganda and among a few others in Africa like Nuru, which apart from health provides information on agriculture and finance.
A chatbot replicates interactive human conversation by processing natural language and using predetermined automated text-based responses.
Researchers have since rooted for application of bots in health care, arguing that using sophisticated chatbot systems can help patients to access services more quickly and easily.
Proponents also say that chatbots can improve access to care and reduce pressure on overworked healthcare systems by ensuring more efficient interactions.
The chatbot has been personalized as a female personal health advisor and it offers free diagnosis and care advice to health symptoms in Facebook Messenger.
Using AI, Mirembe is able to process the health symptoms provided against age, gender, symptom severity and duration, known medical problems.
To use the chatbot, you just need to go to Facebook Messenger, search for “Mirembe” in the search tab.
When the link opens, you click on the “Get Started” button if you are a first-time user.
If you’ve used it before, a greeting — ‘Hi’, ‘Hello’ – will bring Mirembe to your inbox.
The chatbots have, however, been criticized, with opponents citing data security as critical towards maintaining patient trust.
This becomes more crucial, especially in the middle of the recent data breaches that have rocked Facebook, where the bots are hosted.
The Medical Concierge Group, the creator of Mirembe, is headquartered in Uganda, with operations in Kenya and Nigeria.
It was founded in 2012 by David Musinguzi and John Mark Bwanika, both medical doctors.
Before the launch of the messaging bot, TMCG has been other technology media like a call center, WhatsApp to offer health advice and services.
They also have a database of health services in Uganda to help patients who contact them to easily reach medical experts.
The launch of Mirembe comes after the startup recently secured US$200,000 in funding, according to an interview the founders had with DigestAfrica.
Dr. Davis Musinguzi, The Medical Concierge Group Managing Director, said; “Mirembe is able to provide users with real-time triage recommendations and first-line health advice with a very personal touch.”
“This innovation that combines world-class clinical content with Artificial Intelligence and Messenger as a platform to revolutionize the way Africans shall have access to primary health care. Mirembe is currently available at no cost for anyone, anywhere and at any time,” he said.
He added that “this is another first from The Medical Concierge Group and demonstrates our determination to use technology to achieve universal access to affordable and quality healthcare.”